4 March 2017 – I-5 Heading South from Seattle
My family always had a travel trailer while I was growing up. It was classic late 70s with the interior having those hallmark orange, olive green, and brown fabrics and wallpaper. My parents slept on the pull-out sofa bed, my siblings had the bunk beds in the back, and I was the “lucky” one who slept on the convertible table cum bed. The good thing was space was bigger than anyone else had. The bad thing was that I couldn’t go to sleep until everyone else was ready for bed – and yes, I was the one who always sought sleep the earliest and wanted to wake the latest. I also have a fond memory of my mother getting into the cabinet above the bed early one morning to take out coffee and filters for herself and my dad to ease into the day. A pile of napkins landed on me and gently ringed my face, making for a great photo op and an interesting way to wake up.
We used to take an annual family vacation with another family to a place called Rainbow Falls State Park in Washington State during the July 4th weekend when they hosted the Scottish Highland Games. We could participate (pretty sure I still have a stack of ribbons somewhere!), and there was always a closing ceremony where the Scots would march through the campground playing the bagpipes, dressed in their finest kilts and traditional clan garb, and we’d celebrate the winners over the campfire. Those are some of my warmest childhood memories. We also made a few bigger trips, like the time we drove to Mt Rushmore and back, hitting Yellowstone and other epic sites at the same time. I remember seeing Crazy Horse in its early stages, and the Mt. Rushmore visitor’s center was much smaller than it is now. We also went to British Columbia and Alberta, crossing over the Canadian Rockies, and visited Banff and Jasper National Parks and saw my great-grandparent’s homestead near Calgary, Alberta. My parents used to go out more frequently with my older brother when he was in drum and bugle corps; after three more kids had come along a decade later, those trips were fewer and farther between. I don’t blame them. ;-)4
Sergio’s family traveled quite a bit between some incredible trips to Europe, including the UK and Italy, and often went to California to visit their close family in the San Jose area. Once they started the restaurant, travel slowed down drastically, but they all retained their sense of wanderlust and cravings to explore the world.
Sergio and I have tried to recreate for our children some of the best things we remember about our own childhoods, including picnics in the backyard woods, summer Otter pops, gobs of travel, and plenty of laughter. When Sergio and I started talking about what we wanted in our next house several years back when we first moved to the UK, we both those of those things. Then we started really going down the rabbit hole and set our hearts and minds on buying a travel trailer and dragging the kids along to see as much of the world as we can while they still like us.
We’ve spent much of the past two years researching what type of trailer we should buy, floorplans, crunching numbers of towing capacity and payload, and saving for the day we can finally do it. Well, that day has come! After *much* deliberation and countless trips to RV sales lots and seasonal shows, we settled on a new 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT with “luxury package” (read: heated leather seats baby!) and “sun and fun package” (read: DVD player for my sanity). A model with the max trailering package was crucial as that raised the towing capacity up to around 8000 lbs and the payload capacity about 1600 lbs. It also gave us an integrated trailer brake, tow/haul mode, automatic transmission cooler, and the 3.42 axle ratio v. the standard 3.08 axle ratio. We had to locate this unicorn Suburban in just two days as we realized after looking in fear at our upcoming travel schedules, one or both of us would be gone for the next two and a half months, leaving child care a tricky situation. We decided that since we homeschool the big two kiddos and Aurelia is only in preschool, it was the perfect time to take our circus on the road! That gave us only THREE DAYS to select our trailer and tow vehicle, pick them up, and leave home.
We took a three-hour class on how to operate the RV at Tacoma RV where we purchased it on Friday afternoon after frantically picking up the Suburban at 1:30 and signing license docs in Enumclaw. What a day! Luckily we have good friends and neighbors, and an incredible babysitter, who jumped in to help take care of the kiddos while we dashed around trying to execute our harebrained scheme.
Miracle of miracles, though, we actually flipping did it. We loaded the trailer until 11 pm on Friday night and finished up over a couple of hours on Saturday morning. We were quite the spectacle in our cul-de-sac as we just left it all hitched up overnight (um, we were possibly afraid of “fixing” what wasn’t broke!) and we had some neighbors out watching on with amusement and peppering us with questions over our nutso plans. We love our neighborhood – shout out to HPE!!!
Here goes one of our most insane, most incredible adventures yet!